Thursday, June 13, 2024

Zihuatanejo boutique hotel offers variations on the art of leisure

Just outside of Zihuatanejo, on the road to the airport, is a turnoff that will take you to the area’s longest beach, Playa Larga.

At 12 kilometers, and quieter than most, especially during the week, it is a preferred destination for both nationals and tourists. One reason is the numerous restaurants, offering the absolute best in fresh-caught fish and seafood. Many have swimming pools since the activity can be dangerous here for all but the most experienced. Some restaurants also entertain with local musicians.

The ideal time to visit Playa Larga has long been considered from October to March due to the whale and dolphin sightings common to the area and the turtles that spawn on the beach. You can rent horses from Rancho Risquel to ride along the shore and through a coconut plantation or indulge in a visit to Temazcal Badihuni for a steam bath and ceremony with famed healer Lupita Maldonado.

Over the past few years, a new surge in development has occurred here, with several small hotels and rooms-for-rent places on or across the beach. There are several convenience stores to accommodate basic needs during your stay since some of these rooms come with kitchens, perfect for the budget-conscious.

For the not quite so budget-conscious, there is a small boutique hotel not far off the beaten path with just seven luxurious rooms. Puerta Paraíso, or “Door to Paradise,” was bought initially as a family retreat by owner Raul Esponda 25 years ago, but in the last five years it has morphed into one of Playa Larga’s exclusive stays.

The hotel offers gorgeous views of Playa Larga.
The hotel offers gorgeous views of Playa Larga.

I decided to book a room for one night even though I had been there several times for various events and daytime gatherings.

The first thing that struck me there was how attentive and accommodating everyone was, from the staff who greeted us to general manager Omar Valdovinos, who showed us to our room.

The second was how lovely the rooms were — each perfectly appointed with couches and throw pillows and generously sized beds. Just outside the beautiful wooden bifold doors is a private patio area with a hammock, an oversized lounger plus a smaller one and a table and chairs under a thatch-covered roof. The tiles are terra-cotta, and the color scheme and furniture have a decidedly elegant Mexican flair. Toiletries such as shampoos and coconut soap are top grade, as are the towels and linens.

From every room, you can see the large, pebbled pool to the beach and the surf beyond. The restaurant is a spacious open area, but you can also choose to dine at a table on the beach, complete with your loungers, or, if you prefer, take a seat at the bar. There’s even a standard room with a TV off to one side.

Our food was first-class, beautifully prepared and served by our attentive waiter, Daniel. The menu offered everything from tacos and burgers to innovative seafood offerings and full-course dinners.

“It’s becoming popular to book our hotel for parties, weddings and other special events,” says Valdovinos. “For the last two years, we were one of the hosts of the International Guitar Festival. We have a day pass too, which is 500-peso consumption per person.”

The dining menu excels in innovative fish and seafood dishes.
The dining menu excels in innovative fish and seafood dishes.

Just 10–15 minutes away from Zihuatanejo by taxi, Playa Larga is an easy and safe getaway for anyone looking to escape the busier vibrant community nearby.

The more adventurous can take a combi to the beach’s entrance, then pay a few pesos for another ride onward in the back of a pickup truck with benches. Puerta Paraíso is then a 10-minute walk from there, but for 20 pesos more you can convince them to take you all the way — a perfect solution if you have luggage.

Room prices, which include breakfast, start at 3,500 pesos per night in the low season and rise to 4,000 pesos per night from December 15 until Easter. At Christmas and Easter, the price is 4,500 pesos per night.

• For more information, visit Puerta Paraíso’s website.

The writer divides her time between Canada and Zihuatanejo.

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